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Aizle has been on my Edinburgh to-do-list for ages, thankfully my birthday came along and bumped it right up to the top.
I’d heard numerous glowing reports and some confusing explanations of how the menu works, basically, there is no menu. Instead, a list of seasonal ingredients fill blackboards around the restaurant, you let the waiting staff know if there’s anything you can’t/won’t eat, otherwise just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Much like the concept, the decor in Aizle is simple and modern. Aizle’s offering could easily tread into pretentious territory, however, the relaxed and friendly waiting staff make sure it never comes close. With no dietary requirements and two open minds we put our feet up and tried our best not to look at the food arriving at other tables.
As it was a special occasion we splashed out on paired drinks, a wise decision, as this doubled our excitement with each course.
Our matched wines arrived shortly before each course, the main challenge was not to finish them before the food arrived. I wish I’d taken a note of the wines in our tasting menu, they were all so wonderful.
As each dish was placed before us, our eyes lit up, the waiter gave an introduction and we began mentally scoring each ingredient off the blackboard. Aizle encourages you to think about the food you eat, you take more time to consider and appreciate the ingredients, as well as the techniques used to prepare and present them.
The meal is priced at £45* for five courses, which given the quantity and quality is extremely good value for money. The paired drinks do bump up the cost, but it’s worth it, the drinks elevated the flavour of the food and vice-versa.
* Dinner – £55 | Paired Drinks – £40 in 2017
We finished our evening with a couple of cocktails, as much thought and effort go into these as with the food. Krystal Goff is an acclaimed mixologist, sampling a couple of her cocktails seemed like an essential part of the evening and the perfect end to the perfect meal.
I’m often asked for restaurant recommendations in Edinburgh, and it’s usually a pretty difficult question to answer. Aizle have made it much simpler with their truly unique and exciting offering. Aizle is accessible, relaxed and innovative, I’m happy to recommend it to anyone willing to take a leap of faith and ditch the notion of a menu.
Aizle is straight back on my list and could easily reappear every single month.
Awarded our EdinBraw seal of approval:
107-109 St. Leonard’s Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9QY
0131 662 9349
34-year-old Stuart’s culinary career has taken him through some of the best kitchens in the UK, the US and the Caribbean, cooking for stars of the TV, film, music and fashion industries.
Prior to opening Aizle in 2014, Stuart was Chef de Cuisine at the world-famous Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados where he was responsible for their signature restaurant L’Acajou.
His career has also seen positions as head chef of Relais & Châteaux’s Lower Slaughter Manor in Cheltenham where he earned them a third AA Rosette in just 4 months. From 2006 – 2010 Stuart was based in NYC, initially working alongside Gordon Ramsay at his first American venture – Gordon Ramsay at The London – which earned 2 Michelin stars. 2 years later, Stuart teamed up with fellow Gordon Ramsay prodigies to help run Kingswood in Greenwich Village.
It was an instant hit, earning 2 stars in the New York Times and attracting high-profile fans including Sarah Jessica Parker, Mos Def and Stella MacCartney.
Upon leaving Kingswood, Stuart undertook 6 stages in as many months with legendary chefs David Bouley, Marcus Samuelsson, Terrance Brennan, Daniel Humm, Paul Liebrandt and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
In early 2009 he was headhunted for New York’s most prestigious private members’ club, The Core Club, where Stuart would cook for stars, business leaders and politicians including actress Renée Zellweger, Quincy Jones, Bryan Adams and Billy Joel.
It had always been Stuart’s aim to open his own restaurant, and after 13 years gaining invaluable experience, he opened Aizle with his wife Krystal in April 2014.
Edinburgh’s first neo-bistro has announced it will open for dinner four evenings per week in 2018, having been open for dinner five evenings per week since opening in April 2014.
From Wednesday 24 January Aizle will open for dinner on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays between 5pm and 9pm.
Despite operating a very successful business with up to a three-month waiting list for Saturdays, owner and chef Stuart Ralston is planning to spend more time with his wife and young son in 2018.
He said: “For the past three and a half years our staff have all worked extremely hard to make Aizle the success it is, and in line with my own desire to create a healthy lifestyle, I want to create an environment for my staff that’s equally healthy. There’s a tendency to overwork in this industry, the days are long and can be very physically demanding, so it’s important we all have a chance to enjoy life away from the workplace.”
The 36-seat restaurant serves a set-menu dinner based on a monthly list of seasonal ingredients selected by Stuart. The dining experience begins with a few snacks, followed by four courses of sophisticated flavour combinations to both surprise and delight. Aizle’s customers are attracted by the prospect of an evening exploring interesting and delicious ingredients served in a relaxed environment.
Stuart’s inventive cuisine is complemented by an extremely well-edited list of wines from predominantly small producers sourced from independent wine merchants whilst the bar is stocked with original recipe syrups and shrubs made with seasonal ingredients ready to be used in a short but satisfying cocktail list.
Manager Jade Johnston is as passionate about delivering first-class front-of-house service as she is at ensuring the drinks offering is impeccable. Noticing a gap in the list for interesting non-alcoholic drinks, Jade has developed a range of homemade softs as well as well as nurturing her own-recipe Kombucha, spiced with Muscadet, pumpkin, ginger and nutmeg.
Aizle thrives as a close-knit team with kitchen and front-of-house staff often helping each other out. A kitchen porter may open the door for a customer, whilst and a chef may serve one of the courses. This special dynamic reflects everyone at Aizle’s high degree of commitment to providing the best possible experience for guests, regardless of job title.
Prior to founding Aizle, Stuart travelled the world with his wife Krystal, cooking and making drinks for high-profile people in luxurious surroundings. Their experiences were thrilling, educational, and unique, but their true desire was to work for themselves, serving food and cocktails in a humble and unpretentious environment.
In 2017 Aizle was included in TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Best Fine Dining Restaurants in UK, and included in the top 3 restaurants in Scotland in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2017.